Haiti H2O

Hope to Opportunity

Author: jeff (page 1 of 6)

Taglines

These short, memorable descriptions have become identified with a product:

  • Just Do It! (Nike, 1988)
  • What Happens Here, Stays Here (Las Vegas, 2002)
  • Snap! Crackle! Pop! (Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, 1932)
  • Can You Hear Me Now? (Verizon, 2002)

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. This is quoted so often it has become a tagline for the nation. It’s the short, memorable description that has become identified with a product. Help us tell another story:

Haiti is a land of hope.  After attending the primary school in Bassin Caiman, Ronald attended higher learning in Cayes, and upon graduation returned to teach back in his hometown.  Haiti H2O helped build the school and sponsor the teachers during environmental disasters. Marie leads a team of four women who bake bread to sell in the community in an oven sponsored by Haiti H2O. The oven has been operational for over 10 years under Haitian management. Jean sends her son to school with money they earn through the Haiti H2O Goat Project.

Haiti H2O works in a nation of hope. You just have to look past the tagline to see a people of Hope, seeking and seizing Opportunities. Right now we need you to help this reality stay a reality.

The Pittsburgh Marathon/Half/Relay & 5K 
The Pittsburgh Marathon/Half/Relay & 5K is our biggest fundraiser. This year, we are focusing on recruiting relay teams from local churches. I am looking for team captains who will help me recruit and run for Haiti H2O. Would you consider leading a relay team for your church? Do you know someone else who would enjoy this opportunity?

The relay teams are made up of five participants who will run or walk distances between 3.8 to 6.5 miles.  The fundraising minimum commitment is $150 per person, for a team total of $750.

More relay info can be found here: www.pittsburghmarathon.com/marathon-relay
  by Sarah Vandermolen, Marathon Team Captian

Walking the Road of Partnership

“We make the road by walking it” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

My first trip to Haiti was an adventure that involved traveling a lot of roads—some smooth, some bumpy, some dusty, and some so muddy that our 4-wheel drive truck nearly got stuck.

This serves as a good picture for working in Haiti.  We Americans complain when there are a few pot holes on our street and we tend to expect things to go smoothly most of the time.  Life in Haiti is less predictable, and as Luther, one of our missionary founders, often said, “In Haiti you must be flexible, or you will break.”

In January, Doug, Jeff, and I had the opportunity to meet with our partners, including pastors, their wives, and other leaders from the four communities that we have partnered with for more than a decade. The community of St. Martin hosted our Leadership and Training Conference, which also included coordinators and translators who have worked with us over the years. It was such a delight to meet the many people that I’ve been learning about since starting as Director last fall. The roads are difficult at times, but the people of Haiti are such a blessing—their strength, joy, and hospitality are remarkable.

Haiti H2O desires to come alongside our brothers and sisters in Haiti to help develop hope and opportunity in their communities. Partnership is not the same as charity.  Partnership involves mutual respect and affirming the dignity of each person.

That is why our board and staff felt it was crucial to meet as a complete organization—Haitians and Americans—as we strategize for the next decade. We celebrated past accomplishments, discussed the assets of each community, and proposed needs for 2018 and beyond. It was a wonderful weekend, and we are all excited to grow together to meet the needs in each community.

Our community partners expressed a desire to host more American teams—at least two teams per year for each community.  In order to accommodate an increase in trips, we all agreed that it would help to formalize our in-country leadership structure. One of the assets of Haiti H2O has always been strong relationships within each partnering community. That spirit was evident as we discussed developing the infrastructure to host more teams.

It is a bit daunting to go into unchartered waters and figure out new systems for doing things. However, the Haitians are up for the challenge and we Americans are trying to be flexible and take cues from our brothers and sisters who know much more adversity than we do on a daily basis. Coming out of the conference, we hope to follow in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps as we continue, together with our Haitian partners, to “make the road by walking it.”

  by Rhonda Smith, Director

Run for Haiti H2O!

Commit to run or walk in one of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Marathon events

May 4-6,  2018.

Marathon 26.2 miles * Half Marathon 13.1 miles

Relay Team * 5K * Kids Marathon

Commit to help Haiti H2O by inviting people to financially support your run.

Your efforts will help Haiti H2O provide clean water projects, agriculture, sanitation, schools, and more to rural Haitian communities, cultivating hope and opportunities.

 Join Team Haiti H2O at the 2018  Pittsburgh Marathon

and help us raise more money than ever before.

It’s a really simple strategy—you get (or stay!) fit, make friends, and raise some money to change the lives of people in Haiti! Haiti H2O will use the funds you raise to provide clean water, sanitation, schools, and small business opportunities for people in rural Haiti. Sound good?And don’t worry—we’ll be with you every step of the way.  We’ll help you with training programs, access to Haiti H2O’s coaching team, and we’ll have fun monthly get-togethers where you can network with other runners. We’ll also provide you with access to tons of resources to help you become a better runner.Now you must really be ready to join team Run for Hope!
Fundraising goals are as follows:
$300 for Marathon
$300 for Half Marathon
$750 for Relay ($150 per runner)
$150 for 5K
$50 for Kids Marathon
For more info, visit www.haitih2o.org or contact us at info@haitih2o.org.

Matthew

Can I level with you? Most of you know that the masses in Haiti have created a path to live by each day, finding the courage to walk forward in the midst of challenges you and I rarely face. Trickle down aid from the estimated 10,000 NGOs (non- government organizations, including mission organizations) present in Haiti have had little impact in the midst of the crushing despair. Then along comes Hurricane Matthew, which seemed like another twisted fate imposed on a lovely, strong, energetic people that we love deeply.

Last month, Jeff, Danny, and I headed to Haiti meet with Jules and Lenord. We were not prepared for the devastation that we encountered.

In St. Martin, the small picturesque houses that we remembered lining the ocean side of the road were, for the most part, gone. In many cases, a cement pad was all that remained of homes that once were places of births, celebrations, laughter, and life. Lenord, a.k.a. “The Basket Man,” was right in his initial estimate that eight of every ten trees had been pulled out of the ground. Mango, coconut, avocado, and breadfruit trees were gone. So were the leaves that used to offer shade from the hot Caribbean sun.

As we traveled from home to home, families shared their own stories of the terror brought on by Matthew.

One old man spoke of his family running from his home after the tin roof started to lift off. In the chaos of 140-mile-per-hour winds, he became lost in the dark and sat in the pouring rain in a field, clutching his knees while his family searched for hours trying to find him. Still, with his garden lost and his home in ruins, he found the strength to keep moving into another day.

We encountered a young mother sitting on the side of the road in Plain Matin, pregnant with a child that was due any day now. She told of her grandmother running from her home to find safety while holding onto the hands of her two small children. In a gust of wind and debris, this woman’s four-year-old son was wrenched from Grandma’s grip and was blown into the ditch on the side of the road, filled with wreckage and raging water. He was swept away, never to be found. This young mother’s home was destroyed; she must now find a place to give birth to her child.

Goats and pigs, once used to pay school fees, were swept away. Trees and gardens vanished. Homes were leveled. Children and loved ones disappeared. There is no shade to protect the people from the hot sun and no roofs to protect them from the rainy season.

Where do we begin?

Ironically, in the words recorded by a different Matthew, Jesus offers us direction which is found in the wake of love. He invites us to look for him those in places of despair. As it is written in Matthew 25:37-40,

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”  And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Hurricane Matthew left despair. The Gospel of Matthew records the Master’s instructions for meeting others in places of despair.

As we continue to partner with our brothers and sisters in Haiti, let’s remember that we have an opportunity to respond to a Jesus who is without home, a Jesus who is with child while mourning the loss of another, a Jesus who is grateful to be found by his family in the flood—a Jesus who is waiting for you and me to demonstrate our love.

Please give generously towards the recovery of these three villages: Bassin Caiman, St. Martin and Plain Matin. We at Haiti H20 are working together with our partners—the church and community leaders who are present and doing the first steps of organization and planning needed to bring hope out of these opportunities. They face unimaginable daily challenges, and they remain resolute and determined to lend courage as they lead in the rebuilding of their communities.

During this season of Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for all of you who have supported Haiti with your time, talents, financial gifts, and prayers.

Doug Bradbury

Hurricane Matthew Update:

Communications are starting to revive and there is information from the national press available. This article from the BBC summarizes pretty well what our friends are telling us.

I talked to Lucner today (he lives right outside of Les Cayes and has a cinderblock house). His Mom and sister houses were destroyed so there is 12 more people staying with him. He says all the banana, plantain and coconut trees are destroyed. Trees are down everywhere and all of the crops are ruined. He estimates 8 out of 10 homes have their roofs ripped off or are destroyed. Not only was the bridge in Petite Goave-which connected Port au Prince to the South but the bridge leading out of Les Cayes which connected the very southern tip (where St. Martin is) was destroyed.

Lenord François spent the day today trying to get to St. Martin to check in with everyone there. He said bridges are out and trees are across the road, he will have to walk most of the way once he gets out of Les Cayes.

I still have not heard from Pastor Pharyl in Plain Matin. I know everyone is digging out their own homes and helping each other out. Cell phones are dead. Food, water and shelter are the top priorities right now. I am trusting we will hear from everyone when they have the capacity to get a message out.

We do know this. As information continues to roll in the people in Haiti are once again in desperate need of help.

Hurricane Matthew Update

haiti-map

(October 5th)

A little context; below is a map of Haiti. The blue lines show the path of the hurricane. The 3 communities Haiti H2O work in are shown by red arrows. This was a direct hit. I have attached some photos of homes from the communities before the hurricane. You can see that these house stand absolutely no chance of surviving 140 mph winds or the deluge of rain that poured down.

Hurricane Matthew Update

Hurricane Matthew has touched down on the southern coast of Haiti, directly impacting Les Cayes, St. Martin, Plain Matin, and Baissin Caimman.

 

Although communication has been difficult because of overloaded or downed cell towers, we have been able to talk with Jules (in Port au Prince) and get messages from Lucner and Milord Francois (in Les Cayes).

 

St. Martin is especially vulnerable, being right on the southern tip of Haiti. We know that as of midnight last night, the storm surged up over the land and flooded Pastor Daniel’s house. We can only imagine the devastation on thatched homes in that area. Lucner’s home in Les Cayes was flooded and he lost everything inside.

 

We have not had any direct reports from Pastor Pharyl in Plain Matin or Pastor Celone in Baissin Caimman.

 

Haiti H2O serves to cultivate hope and opportunities in rural Haiti through our partner churches in each community.

 

Hurricane Matthew will have long term affects in Haiti. Please know that the next steps for Haiti H2O will NOT be business as usual—we are sending emergency funds to our partner churches so they can meet immediate needs.

 

Please consider helping us step up and serve in new ways in the communities we serve.

Donations can be made online at http://haitih2o.org/haiti-h2o-one-time-donation/

Composting Toilets: Basic Element of Life

soil 2016HAITI H2O joins communities together to provide the basic elements of life in rural Haiti.

The composting toilet program exemplifies this spirit of collaboration. On June 8, 2016, people from two different communities attended a workshop on Ecological Sanitation hosted by SOIL in Port au Prince.

Jilsen is our toilet manager in Baissin Caiman. He had this to say about the workshop: “We have learned a lot of things today to build on our existing knowledge, and we are eager to continue working in our community.”

This has been the fruit of a long collaboration.

The composting toilet program was born after listening to the people of Baissin Caiman dream about what their lives could look like. We talked to hundreds of people from 30 homes in the area to get their input.

We went home, researched, and studied, and when we returned to Baissin Caiman, we held a town meeting. We affirmed the importance of proper sanitation and presented three different options to construct bathroom facilities. They chose composting toilets because it made sense to them—even though they did not understand all of the intricacies involved.

We researched how to build the toilets with local techniques and materials and then sought out resources in Haiti. We partnered with SOIL to train the committee members and have completed the pilot project in Baissin Caiman—four composting toilets, one in each of the four neighborhoods.

Baissin Caiman introduced the program to the members of St. Martin, and they completed the first compost toilet in that community last year. The people of St. Martin are eager to continue building compost toilets.

Clausel is on the sanitation committee in St. Martin. “This conference came at an important time for us,” he said. “In St. Martin, there are people getting sick from poor sanitation. We are very happy that we could learn some new things from this conference and now we want to continue serving in our community.”

Why I Give to Haiti H2O

After many years of ministering to athletes on every level, I continue to hear coaches talk about players who ‘play the right way.’ For the longest time, I didn’t know what they were talking about. After all, what is the ‘right’ way to play (as opposed to the wrong way) from players in the same level and on the same team? What I’ve come to realize is ‘playing the right way’ means playing for the long haul. In their zeal, players will cut corners in an effort to produce results more quickly. And you know what? It works! Short term playing does often produce short term results. But what these players don’t realize is that while their short term goals are achieved it is actually pulling the rug out from under their long term success. They score the goal but miss the playoffs. They’ve won the battle, but lost the war.

That’s why I give to Haiti H2O. Their aim is winning the war.

I’ve been on almost twenty international missions trips and have, unfortunately, seen many others who give the quick, feel-good approach to their ministry. The short-term ministers get a warm fuzzy feeling and a few stories to tell, while the locals receive trinkets and supplies to last a few weeks. But did they win? No. The locals are now developing a dependency upon the missionaries along with a victim mentality. The short term missionaries meant well, but they were focused on the immediate challenge and not the long term good of the local people.

After twenty years of ministering in the same towns through the same churches, Haiti H2O has discovered how to partner with the Haitian communities for the long term good of those they minister to. They win wars not battles. They play the right way. That’s why I give.

Marc Porpilia
HMI Chapel Coordinator & Chaplain
Marc serves as a full time chaplain for serveral teams in Upstate New York and also helps with the development of chapels within this region. He lives just outside of Buffalo, NY.

Porpilia Family in Bassin Caiman, Haiti 2009

Porpilia Family in Bassin Caiman, Haiti 2009

Dr. Sima Weaver Reflects on Her Time in Haiti

“The poor you will always have with you…”Mathew 26:11

Since I became a doctor in 1996, I have always worked among and cared for the poor. For several years, it was in inner city Memphis, TN caring for refugees, homeless people, and addicts from a mobile clinic van, then for 5 years in India, among the poor, low caste, and marginalized communities of two different villages in rural India. Now, for the past 3 years, my husband and I have worked at East Liberty Family Health Care Center, a place of diversity and need among its patients, many of whom are also counted among the poorest people in Pittsburgh. The faces and stories of the suffering of the poor, both here and abroad have left an indelible mark upon my heart and soul. Though these stories are not easy to hear and the plight of the poor often agonizingly incurable, I am drawn to hear them and to enter into their stories because without a doubt, the heart of the Lord is tangibly present within them.

It is for this reason that I eagerly accepted the opportunity to serve this past June in a medical clinic in Bassin Caiman. My daughter Kavya, who also carries a heart for international communities, joined our team as well. Our first impressions upon arriving in Haiti were that of a remarkable familiarity – the heat, the harsh landscapes, the crowded and busy roads encroached by markets and garbage heaps, the ever present activity night and day, and the smiles of curious children – we both felt at home. Even more familiar was the eagerness of people to come to a medical clinic. By 5am of the day of each clinic, crowds began to gather around the church where our makeshift clinic had been set up, and by 7am, there were throngs of people. Each member or our team had a role and job to do, and through the long days of seeing patient after patient, the Spirit of God strengthened us to stay on task and succumb to exhaustion only after the last patient had been seen at the end of the day. As I began listening to the medical concerns of each patient, both young and old, I heard so many complaints that I have heard among the poor all over the world: “My knees and back ache all the time (every day of my life I have chopped and carried heavy sacks of firewood and buckets of water upon my head, and finally my joints can no longer take it)…my eyes hurt, and my vision is blurry (the grit of constant dirt and dust in my eyes coupled with vitamin deficiencies have rendered by corneas scarred and inflamed)…my stomach burns into my chest (the food I eat is only made palatable by potent and pungent spices that cause surges in stomach acid)…I have terrible headaches. I know I high blood pressure but cannot pay for medicine (in the absence of electricity and refrigeration, the food we eat is heavily salted as a preservative, and the genetic predisposition of my African heritage leaves me vulnerable to the complications of chronic hypertension)…”

During the days of participating in the busy medical clinics in Bassin Caiman, I was reminded that behind each medical complaint is also a story, and these stories are the real reason people came to be seen – to give voice to the pain and suffering in their lives. In a cement church building with no electricity, using benches as our examining tables and the dispensing of a 2 week supply of medicines, I knew the medical care I gave was limited at best. True health and healing for people in rural Haiti will involve layers and layers of multi-faceted change and interventions. Yet, in the organizing of this clinic for the people of Bassin Caiman and surrounding villages, Haiti H2O demonstrated great love in its willingness to enter into the stories of the poor among them, and over 800 people received a small balm of healing in the sharing of their story. In that effort, I am so honored to have been able to love and serve among the poor in Bassin Caiman.

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